Monday, August 26, 2013

How Do You Get Ideas for Books?


 
I am frequently asked how I come up with story ideas. I tell people, "Everywhere. My problem isn't developing topics for books but focusing on one of my many ideas." First of all, I read constantly. When I am not writing, I am reading. I have a Kindle so it's easy to shuffle through books. Today, I was re-reading parts of the Bleak House by Charles Dickens, an erotica book by a new author, a book on game theory, a history of Area 51 and a YA novel. I also read the news that showed up in my Google Reader. Reading stories will give you ideas for more stories. One of the stories I read today was about a couple who had been married for 65 years and then died hours apart. That's one of those moving stories that make you take a pause and assess life and love. I jotted some noted about the story and put a star next to it. I will intentionally forget it for days, weeks or possibly years. Stories need to settle or digest before you can start forming them into stories with your own unique style.

Story ideas can be gleaned from all of life's experiences and not just reading. There have been countless times where someone made an interesting statement and it stayed with me and somehow made it into a story a year or even five years later. I am also constantly drawing on my childhood for inspiration. With all the things I read and experience I have learned to keep a journal to jot down ideas and thoughts. Some people keep small notebooks. I remember there was an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David loss a small notebook where he kept his ideas for stories, jokes etc. Larry was destroyed without it. I think I would be too. However, I keep a bigger notebook so losing it out of my pocket is not possible. I bought a bigger purse so I would never have to be without it. The "Idea Journal" is a great way to develop ideas for stories. Journals don't have to be the pouring out of emotions or rote descriptions of the weather. I'm not even sure why people comment about the weather in their journals. Here's advice, don't write about the weather. But that weird habit your co-worker has of constantly clearing his throat and then whistling, record that.

You don't have to know how all your ideas and observations can fit into a story right away. It will come to you. If you're a writer, stories will always come to you.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bad Pill Called Procrastination





There are many books about writing that talk about procrastination. Some books give you strategies for overcoming procrastination and some books suggest giving in to it. I recently read a blog post by BryanHutchinson about procrastination. He thinks that writers should give into it. If you don’t want to write, don’t write. I understand what he is saying but that attitude can destroy your dream of being a writer.

Here’s my experience. Set a word goal and stick to it every day. My current goal is to write 3,000 words a day. I have a lot of story ideas and need to get them out there. I am a publisher. I have to produce. I don’t wait for inspiration. I sit at the computer and simply write. I keep a notebook to jot down ideas during the day. When not writing, I focus on marketing. This is my life. I’ve chosen it. I’m meant to be a writer. Every experience from the past has led me down this path. Procrastination can end it all. It can unravel all my plans.
I agree that we need moments, sometimes long moments, to do nothing. We need space. We need to be silly and unproductive to spur on creativity. But don’t walk away from the keyboard, paper and pen or typewriter for too long. Try to meet your word commitment.

Writers write and the successful ones do it every day. Procrastination is really about fear. We wonder, what will I write next? We get skittish when we see a blank piece of paper or a blank screen. But you must overcome that to write.

Here’s what I suggest. Write two sentences. If you can’t write more, then fine. At least, you wrote something. However, I think a lot of writers will keep writing. Those two sentences will spur you on. The synapses will start firing. The story will worm its way out.


Commit to two sentences a day no matter what. Then fulfill your word goal rather it be 500 or a 3000 words. 

Procrastination is a bad pill. Don't swallow it. Just be productive. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Romance Giveaway - Subscribe to My Blog and Get a Free Romance eBook


My romance eBook, The Sweet Edge, has recently been released by Blue Bow Media. It is available across multiple digital platforms, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance EBooks, Apple, Lulu and Smashwords. It is priced, for a limited time, at $0.99, which is a bargain and a steal. If you subscribe to my blog, the first ten get it free. So what's it about?

Here's the synopsis of The Sweet Edge:

Stella O’Malley is trying to make it in the Big City. She holds down two jobs and works on a romance novel in her spare time. Her goal is to be a romance writer. But Stella’s romantic experience is limited. Stella fantasizes about an attorney at the law firm she works at. He is brilliant, kind and cute. He is everything she imagines a romantic hero should be. Then Campbell Royce comes into her life. He is successful, handsome but arrogant and superficial. Stella dislikes him instantly but Campbell pursues her and she discovers a level of sexual intimacy she has never known. Will Stella follow her infatuation with Ben or her very real passion with Campbell?

 

How did I get the idea? I really related to Stella as a writer struggling to be a writer. Stella, like many women, didn't always feel good about herself physically or professionally. Stella, also like most women, didn't need to change her appearance or talents she just needed to realize and project her own worth. Yes, Stella goes through a slight makeover but nothing drastic. She just started paying attention to herself and accentuating what she was given. Along the way she finds steamy passion and love because that's what all women deserve if they can only accept themselves.

I am offering a free PDF version of The Sweet Edge to ten people who follow my blog via email. Let me rephrase, the first ten. My blog is a new project and I intend to provide a lot of marketing ideas, writing tips and insights into indie publishing.

 

To learn more about me and my titles go to Risa Peris.

My Facebook profile is Facebook

My Twitter address is Twitter

My Smashwords page is Smashwords

Friday, August 16, 2013

So You Wrote a Children's Book…


 
 
I have a children's book launching on September 1, 2013 called, When You Are Spooked. It is a series and will be offered exclusively as an eBook. The story had been percolating in my head for several years and during that time I had jotted down ideas, developed the characters, and wrote a page here and there but never completed it. Part of what held me back was that I wanted the book illustrated. I am not an artist and I didn't know any artists. I scoured the internet for a few but they charged hefty amounts and wanted upfront payment rather than a portion of the royalties. They weren't about to gamble on a new writer.

I eventually did find an illustrator but through a website that is an indie authors dream. It's called Fivver (www.fiverr.com). The website has thousands of people with various talents who are willing to do things for $5. There are lots of illustrators and graphic designers on the site. I found one whose sample art immediately stood out to me. I liked her style. For $5 I got her to illustrate the eBook cover for When You Are Spooked. She did such a great job that I immediately bought several illustrations. I've invested about $60 in artwork for the book and have developed a relationship with the artist. She will be illustrating the rest of the series. I've gotten some good responses about the artwork. The key is to be very specific as to what you want. Don't say "surprise me". You are bound to get disappointed.

The bottom line is that if you have written a story for children, getting it illustrated doesn't have to set you back hundreds or thousands.
For more information about me and my books go to www.risaperis.com

Monday, August 12, 2013

When I Became A Writer

I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer - See more at: Writing Contest

I became a writer when, at the age of thirteen, I read Gone With the Wind and was sorely disappointed. It wasn’t that I thought I could do better, it was just that I had created an alternate plot to the title when I was seven. The Civil War and antebellum South didn’t seem nearly as interesting as the great storm, magical diamond necklace and invading aliens that my plot had. My parents were avid readers, book collectors and sellers. We had more bookcases in our home than chairs. I fingered every title and fawned over every cover. I was a good reader but couldn’t quite grasp the language in adult books. Not at seven. Not yet. I liked my mom’s books the best. She read romance and I was quite captivated by the flowing dresses, long tresses and very adult bosoms the women had on the covers. I tended to ignore the men on the covers. Boys had cooties. Boys pulled my pigtails. I would pull out a book and stare and stare.
“Risa, what are you doing?” My mother would stand before me with her hands on her hips.
“I want to read it.” My voice was whiny.
“You’re too young. Think of something else to do. Read your chapter books.”
“Those are for babies.” I was petulant.
“Then write.”
“Write?”
“Write your own story.”
“Write about what?”
“Think of something. Be creative.”
I stared at the books lined on the dusty bookcase. Rapture in Tuscany. Clan of the Cave Bear. Falling Into You. The King’s Knight. Gone With the Wind.
“Gone With the Wind. What a curious title,” I muttered aloud. My mother had walked away and was no doubt in her easy chair sipping Diet Coke and watching General Hospital. I got a composition book and a Hello Kitty pen and wrote in block letters - GONE WITH THE WIND.
“Wind, wind, storm, something goes missing, something valuable, it goes into the wind.” I was brainstorming. Priming the pump. Letting the creative juices flow. That’s what I thought in my head because, at seven, I only knew cliches. I scribbled.
“What if the something valuable was a necklace? What if the necklace had magical powers? What if aliens from another universe wanted those magical powers? Geez, this is good. This is really good.”
I scribbled and scribbled and scribbled some more. My hand started cramping. I was having too much fun to stop. I wrote until dinner time. I went to the dinner table with my notebook. We were having meatloaf. I hated meatloaf.
“How was your day?” My father asked.
“It started off horrid. Then it got boring. But now it’s fascinating.”
“What were you doing?”
“Writing. Want to hear?” Mother, father and my brothers chewed and looked at me expectantly. I cleared my throat and spoke. There was great emotion in my voice. I felt tension in my stomach. I finished with a dramatic flair. No one spoke.
Finally, my teenage brother piped up. “That’s stupid.”
“It is not pig face!” I was hot. How dare his cootie infested body criticize me.
“Uh, what do aliens have to do with the Civil War?” It was my other brother.
“The Civil War?” My voice had weakened.
“Ha, I knew it. She doesn’t even know what the Civil War is. You don’t know Gone With the Wind.” “My story is better.” The vanity of writers was instinctive to me. Everyone laughed. I blushed redder than the ketchup smeared on the meatloaf.
“It is better,” I maintained. They laughed some more.
My father patted me on the back. “Your story was creative. Something to keep in mind, everyone's a critic but not everyone is a creator. Keep that in mind.”
“Sure. Whatever that means.” I sipped my Kool Aid.
When I was thirteen I started reading all the books on the bookshelves. My mother told me Gone With The Wind was going to be on TV in a few weeks.
“Maybe you should read the book?”
“Maybe I will.” I had just finished The World According to Garp so I picked up Gone With the Wind. It was sweeping. It was romantic. It was boring. If only it had aliens. I couldn’t write better than Margaret Mitchell but I was positive that I came up with a more interesting plot when I was seven.
“I’ll write my own book.” That’s when I became a writer. I became a writer when I had the audacity to think I could create interesting plots and that other people would want to read them. I became a writer when, contrary to bad reviews by my family, I still had faith in my words. I became a writer when I understood it was far better to create than to kick back, critic and complain. I became a writer when I realized I didn’t give fig about money or fame. I just wanted to write, whether I had an audience or not.

Van Gogh painted and only sold one painting in his life. He didn’t stop painting. Not once. Be damned to all! Just write. But don’t cut off your ear. You kind of need those.